Column: Every voice deserves to be heard after Parkland
The media has an ethical responsibility to give every voice in a movement time to be heard.
Apr. 19, 2018
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
Tatyana Monnay is a freshman journalism major at MU. She is an opinions columnist who writes about politics for The Maneater.
The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have done a great job of garnering attention for the gun reform movement; however, minority students within the school have complained they are not getting the same level of attention as their white counterparts.
This is not surprising. Historically, minority communities have blamed the media for their lack of representation. When they do receive more coverage, they often feel they are misrepresented.
Since the Feb. 14 shooting, the media has essentially curated who will represent the gun control movement.
The voices of African-American students have been missing in Parkland — until now. Black students of MSD held a press conference in late March to discuss their lack of representation in the media since Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 people at MSD.
At the press conference, MSD junior Tyah-Amoy Roberts said, “The media have neglected us. Our peers have neglected us, though they are doing great work, and we have neglected ourselves until this very moment by not using our voice to demand to be seen and acknowledged. Well, here we are; do you see us?”
Black students make up 11 percent of MSD’s student population. Even so, they have had little influence on the public due to a lack of visibility in media coverage.
One thing we should realize by now is that in large movements, the underrepresented will make themselves heard by the masses.
This was the case for Concerned Student 1950, a group of students who led the 2015 protests in objection to the racial discrimination and harassment students of color experienced on MU’s campus, which often went ignored by the MU administration, even when these instances were reported.
These students, similarly to the student survivors of the shooting in Parkland, took charge and, rather than becoming victims of their situation, became strong figures in the public who dominated the news cycle for weeks.
The superstar students of the Parkland shooting have done a good job of checking their privilege and have attempted multiple times to share the spotlight, but the media will not take the bait.
The media has a tendency to go for the money. I live 25 minutes from Parkland; I know the type of people who live there. Parkland is an affluent city of about 25,000 people in the northwestern Broward County area with a median house sales price of about $622,000. Residents include CEOs, elected officials and corporate professionals who live in gated communities and drive their kids to school in the latest Porsche. When they grow old enough, some students drive themselves to school in the year’s latest Lexus or BMW.
I don’t think the media is purposely trying to ignore minority students in their coverage of the Parkland shooting and gun reform movement. However, the media generally has done a substandard job covering minority communities. For example, minority groups are disproportionately portrayed as violent in news media.
“Numerous studies documented the high rate at which persons of color were typically portrayed as violent or dangerous in newspapers and television,” according to Journalist’s Resource, an organization that researches news as part of Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.
Coverage should include minority voices in an accurate light, and there should be more of an effort to increase the intersectionality among the movement.
In every movement, there are always various perspectives that are affected in different ways. It is so important that in every movement these voices are heard. Only when we see the views of all, can we truly come to societal consensus that takes all perspectives into account.